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Hudson v. Louisiana

U.S.
Feb 24, 1981
450 U.S. 40 (1981)

Summary

holding that granted new trial on basis of insufficient evidence barred new trial

Summary of this case from State v. Rudolph

Opinion

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA.

No. 79-5688.

Argued December 1, 1980. Decided February 24, 1981.

Held: Louisiana violated the Double Jeopardy Clause by prosecuting petitioner a second time for first-degree murder after the judge at the first trial granted petitioner's motion for new trial on the ground that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the jury's guilty verdict. This case is controlled by Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (decided before the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction after the second trial), which held that "the Double Jeopardy Clause precludes a second trial once the reviewing court has found the evidence legally insufficient" to support the guilty verdict. Id., at 18. Burks is not to be read as holding that double jeopardy protections are violated only when the prosecution has adduced no evidence at all of the crime or an element thereof. The record does not support the State's contention that the trial judge granted a new trial only because, as a "13th juror," he entertained personal doubts about the verdict and would have decided it differently from the other 12 jurors. The record shows instead that he granted the new trial because the State had failed to prove its case as a matter of law. Pp. 42-45.

373 So.2d 1294, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Richard O. Burst, Sr., argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner.

James M. Bullers, argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent.

Page 40 Quin Denvir and Laurance S. Smith filed a brief for the State Public Defender of California as amicus curiae.


The question in this case is whether Louisiana violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, as we expounded it in Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978), by prosecuting petitioner a second time after the trial judge at the first trial granted petitioner's motion for new trial on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict of guilty.

I

Petitioner Tracy Lee Hudson was tried in Louisiana state court for first-degree murder, and the jury found him guilty. Petitioner then moved for a new trial, which under Louisiana law was petitioner's only means of challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against him. The trial judge granted the motion, stating: "I heard the same evidence the jury did[;] I'm convinced that there was no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, to sustain the verdict of the homicide committed by this defendant of this particular victim." The Louisiana Supreme Court denied the State's application for a writ of certiorari. State v. Hudson, 344 So.2d 1 (1977).

Louisiana's Code of Criminal Procedure does not authorize trial judges to enter judgments of acquittal in jury trials. La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 778 (West Supp. 1980); State v. Henderson, 362 So.2d 1358, 1367 (La. 1978). Accordingly, a criminal defendant's only means of challenging the sufficiency of evidence presented against him to a jury is a motion for new trial under La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 851 (West 1967 and Supp. 1980), which provides in pertinent part:
"The Court, on motion of the defendant, shall grant a new trial whenever:
"(1) The verdict is contrary to the law and the evidence;
"(2) The court's ruling on a written motion, or an objection made during the proceedings, shows prejudicial error;
"(3) New and material evidence that, notwithstanding the exercise of reasonable diligence by the defendant, was not discovered before or during the trial, is available, and if the evidence had been introduced at the trial it would probably have changed the verdict or judgment of guilty;
"(4) The defendant has discovered, since the verdict or judgment of guilty, a prejudicial error or defect in the proceedings that, notwithstanding the exercise of reasonable diligence by the defendant, was not discovered before the verdict or judgment; or
"(5) The court is of the opinion that the ends of justice would be served by the granting of a new trial, although the defendant may not be entitled to a new trial as a matter of strict legal right."
We think it clear that the trial judge in this case acted under paragraph (1) in granting a new trial. See infra, at 43.

At petitioner's second trial, the State presented an eyewitness whose testimony it had not presented at the first trial. The second jury also found petitioner guilty. The Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. State v. Hudson, 361 So.2d 858 (1978).

Petitioner then sought a writ of habeas corpus in a Louisiana state court, contending that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred the State from trying him the second time. Petitioner relied on our decision in Burks that "the Double Jeopardy Clause precludes a second trial once the reviewing court has found the evidence legally insufficient" to support the guilty verdict. 437 U.S., at 18. The trial court denied a writ, and the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed. 373 So.2d 1294 (1979). The Supreme Court read Burks to bar a second trial only if the court reviewing the evidence — whether an appellate court or a trial court — determines that there was no evidence to support the verdict. Because it believed that the trial judge at petitioner's first trial had granted petitioner's motion for new trial on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict, although some evidence, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that petitioner's second trial was not precluded by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

We decided Burks before the Louisiana Supreme Court entered its judgment affirming petitioner's conviction.

Page 42 Burks involved a federal prosecution, but the Court held in Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19, 24 (1978), that the double jeopardy principle in Burks fully applies to the States. See Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784 (1969); Crist v. Bretz, 437 U.S. 28 (1978).

We granted a writ of certiorari, 445 U.S. 960 (1980), and we now reverse.

II

We considered in Burks the question "whether an accused may be subjected to a second trial when conviction in a prior trial was reversed by an appellate court solely for lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict." 437 U.S., at 2. We held that a reversal "due to a failure of proof at trial," where the State received a "fair opportunity to offer whatever proof it could assemble," bars retrial on the same charge. Id., at 16. We also held that it makes "no difference that the reviewing court, rather than the trial court, determined the evidence to be insufficient," id., at 11 (emphasis in original), or that "a defendant has sought a new trial as one of his remedies, or even as the sole remedy." Id., at 17.

Our decision in Burks controls this case, for it is clear that petitioner moved for a new trial on the ground that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the verdict and that the trial judge granted petitioner's motion on that ground. In the hearing on the motion, petitioner's counsel argued to the trial judge that "the verdict of the jury is contrary to the law and the evidence." After reviewing the evidence put to the jurors, the trial judge agreed with petitioner "that there was no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, to sustain the verdict"; and he commented: "[H]ow they concluded that this defendant committed the act from that evidence when no weapon was produced, no proof of anyone who saw a blow struck, is beyond the Court's comprehension." The Louisiana Supreme Court recognized that the trial judge granted the new trial on the ground that the evidence was legally insufficient. The Supreme Court described the trial judge's decision in these words: "[T]he trial judge herein ordered a new trial pursuant to LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 851 (1) solely for lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict . . . ." 373 So.2d, at 1298 (emphasis in original). This is precisely the circumstance in which Burks precludes retrials. 437 U.S., at 18. See Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19, 24-26 (1978); id., at 27 (POWELL, J., concurring). Nothing in Burks suggests, as the Louisiana Supreme Court seemed to believe, that double jeopardy protections are violated only when the prosecution has adduced no evidence at all of the crime or an element thereof.

The State contends that Burks does not control this case. As the State reads the record, the trial judge granted a new trial only because he entertained personal doubts about the verdict. According to the State, the trial judge decided that he, as a "13th juror," would not have found petitioner guilty and he therefore granted a new trial even though the evidence was not insufficient as a matter of law to support the verdict. The State therefore reasons that Burks does not preclude a new trial in such a case, for the new trial was not granted "due to a failure of proof at trial." 437 U.S., at 16.

The State's contention here adopts the reasoning of Justice Tate's concurring opinion in the Louisiana Supreme Court. Justice Tate wrote:
"[The trial judge] did not grant a new trial for a reason that he did not think the state had produced sufficient evidence to prove guilt, but rather because he himself (to satisfy his doubts — not the jury's, which had concluded otherwise) had personal doubts that the evidence was sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Commendably and conscientiously, he therefore ordered a new trial . . . .
"The present is not an instance where the state did not prove its case at the first trial, so that granting a new trial gave the state a second chance to produce enough evidence to convict the accused. If so, as the majority notes, re-trial offends constitutional double jeopardy." 373 So.2d at 1298 (emphasis in original).

This is not such a case, as the opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court and the statements of the trial judge make clear. The trial judge granted the new trial because the State had failed to prove its case as a matter of law, not merely because he, as a "13th juror," would have decided it differently from the other 12 jurors. Accordingly, there are no significant facts which distinguish this case from Burks, and the Double Jeopardy Clause barred the State from prosecuting petitioner a second time.

Whether a state trial judge in a jury trial may assess evidence as a "13th juror" is a question of state law. Compare People v. Noga, 196 Colo. 478, 480, 586, P.2d 1002, 1003 (1978); State v. Bowle, 318 So.2d 407, 408 (Fla.App. 1975), with Veitch v. Superior Court, 89 Cal.App.3d 722, 730-731, 152 Cal.Rptr. 822, 827 (1979); People v. Ramos, 33 A.D.2d 344, 347, 308 N.Y.S.2d 195, 197-198 (1970). Justice Tate's concurring opinion for the Louisiana Supreme Court suggests that Louisiana law allows trial judges to act as "13th jurors." We do not decide whether the Double Jeopardy Clause would have barred Louisiana from retrying petitioner if the trial judge had granted a new trial in that capacity, for that is not the case before us. We note, however, that Burks precludes retrial where the State has failed as a matter of law to prove its case despite a fair opportunity to do so. Supra, at 43. By definition, a new trial ordered by a trial judge acting as a "13th juror" is not such a case. Thus, nothing in Burks precludes retrial in such a case.

The Louisiana Supreme Court did not find it significant that the trial judge, rather than an appellate court, held the State's evidence to be insufficient to sustain the jury's verdict: "While the case at bar involves the granting of a motion for new trial by the trial court for insufficient evidence rather than review at the appellate level, we deem the same principles are applicable to both." 373 So.2d, at 1297. The State does not contest this conclusion.

III

The judgment of the Louisiana Supreme Court is reversed.

It is so ordered.


Summaries of

Hudson v. Louisiana

U.S.
Feb 24, 1981
450 U.S. 40 (1981)

holding that granted new trial on basis of insufficient evidence barred new trial

Summary of this case from State v. Rudolph

finding of insufficient evidence, though made in the course of granting a motion for new trial, is an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes

Summary of this case from Mannes v. Gillespie

finding a successive prosecution violated double jeopardy where the trial court granted a motion for new trial based on legal insufficiency of the evidence

Summary of this case from State v. Blackshere

concluding that whether a determination that a conviction was based on insufficient evidence occurs in the context of a motion for acquittal or a motion for a new trial, the determination invokes the constitutional protections against double jeopardy

Summary of this case from State v. Halsell

determining that the grant of a new trial following a conviction was actually an acquittal

Summary of this case from U.S. ex Rel. Rivera v. Sheriff of Cook County

In Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 101 S.Ct. 970, 67 L.Ed.2d 30 (1981), a state prisoner moved the state trial court for a new trial alleging evidentiary insufficiency of his jury conviction for first degree murder.

Summary of this case from Delk v. Atkinson

In Hudson, however, the Court found the Louisiana Supreme Court misapplied the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978).

Summary of this case from Eiland v. Kernan

In Hudson, the trial court granted the defendant's motion for retrial on grounds that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the verdict.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the United States Supreme Court barred retrial because the trial judge granted a new trial motion based on the legal insufficiency of the evidence at trial.

Summary of this case from People v. Hatch

In Hudson, supra, the Supreme Court held that Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1, 98 S.Ct. 2141, 57 L.Ed.2d 1 (1978) precluded retrial of the defendant for murder.

Summary of this case from Moore v. State

In Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 44 n. 5, 101 S.Ct. 970, 973 n. 5, 67 L.Ed.2d 30, 34 n. 5 (1981), however, the Supreme Court explained that Burks did not preclude a new trial granted for some evidentiary lack less than insufficiency to take the case to the jury — e.g., a verdict against the weight of the evidence.

Summary of this case from In re Petition for Writ of Prohibition

In Hudson, the high court held that Louisiana violated the double jeopardy clause by retrying a defendant for first degree murder after the trial court granted a new trial because the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law.

Summary of this case from People v. Trevino

In Hudson, after a hearing on Hudson's motion, the trial judge stated: "[T]here was no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, to sustain the verdict"; and he commented, "[H]ow they concluded that this defendant committed the act from that evidence when no weapon was produced, no proof of anyone who saw a blow struck, is beyond the Court's comprehension."

Summary of this case from State v. Pugh

In Hudson, the trial judge granted Hudson's motion for a new trial, stating: "I heard the same evidence the jury did[;] I'm convinced that there was no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, to sustain the verdict of the homicide committed by this defendant of this particular victim."

Summary of this case from State v. Pugh

In Hudson, the United States Supreme Court relied upon its prior decision in Burks v. United States (1978) 437 U.S. 1, 2–11, 98 S.Ct. 2141, 57 L.Ed.2d 1. Burks held that if a judgment is reversed on appeal on evidentiary insufficiency grounds, there can be no retrial.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the trial court spoke of “no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt” to sustain the homicide verdict.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the United States Supreme Court relied upon its prior decision in Burks v. United States (1978) 437 U.S. 1, 2–11, 98 S.Ct. 2141, 57 L.Ed.2d 1. Burks held that if a judgment is reversed on appeal on evidentiary insufficiency grounds, there can be no retrial. (Id. at pp. 16-17, 98 S.Ct. 2141; see People v. Anderson (2009) 47 Cal.4th 92, 104, 97 Cal.Rptr.3d 77, 211 P.3d 584.)

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the trial court spoke of “no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt” to sustain the homicide verdict.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the United States Supreme Court relied upon its prior decision in Burks v. United States (1978) 437 U.S. 1, 2–11, 98 S.Ct. 2141, 57 L.Ed.2d 1. Burks held that if a judgment is reversed on appeal on evidentiary insufficiency grounds, there can be no retrial.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the trial court granted the defendant's new trial motion and stated: " ‘I heard the same evidence the jury did[;] I'm convinced that there was no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, to sustain the verdict of the homicide committed by this defendant of this particular victim.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the trial court spoke of "no evidence, certainly not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt" to sustain the homicide verdict.

Summary of this case from People v. Eroshevich

In Hudson, the Supreme Court ruled that when the entirety of the evidence, including inadmissible evidence which was erroneously admitted, is insufficient to support the conviction, the accused must be discharged as to that crime, and any discussion by the court of the trial error issues as to the crime would be pure dicta since those issues are moot.

Summary of this case from State v. Bosworth

In Hudson, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause to retry a defendant where it had been found that the State had presented legally insufficient evidence to support a jury's verdict of guilty. Hence, the State was precluded from retrying a defendant and an acquittal was mandatory when it was found that the State had presented insufficient evidence.

Summary of this case from State v. Landry

In Hudson, both the trial court and appellate court — the Louisiana Supreme Court — agreed that the State, in the first trial, had failed to prove its case as a matter of law.

Summary of this case from Moore v. State

In Hudson, the Supreme Court held that the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution bars the retrial of a defendant where the reviewing court determines that there was no evidence to sustain the conviction.

Summary of this case from Moore v. State
Case details for

Hudson v. Louisiana

Case Details

Full title:HUDSON v . LOUISIANA

Court:U.S.

Date published: Feb 24, 1981

Citations

450 U.S. 40 (1981)
101 S. Ct. 970

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